In a Theatrical Fashion
Gabellini Associates designs a new showroom for Jil Sander in a landmark Milanese building.
Jeff Hill -- Interior Design, 11/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Jil Sander's New Milan headquarters, designed by the New York-based architectural firm Gabellini Associates, is located on the main piazza in front of the historic Castello Sforzesco, occupying 19,375 sq. ft. of a restructured 19th-century theater and palazzo. The program was comprehensive: The Milan headquarters would house design production facilities, offices, showroom and sales spaces, and also a large theater space that could be adapted to various collection and press events.
A ground-floor lobby provides entry from the piazza, leading to a three-story vertical light shaft in which Gabellini created a new public stair that ascends to the reception area. One approaches the showroom space—a restructured 1950s cinema—from the promenade along the top of the continuous limestone steps that cascade down into the main showroom and theater space. The promenade links the flanking showrooms, the atelier, and offices on the upper level.
Structural beams from the original theater roof measure approximately 6 1/2 ft. deep and run along the showroom's ceiling. The architects carved light coves into the spaces between the beams. Here, the ceiling is illuminated from within, which also suggest greater height while still accentuating the horizontal emphasis of this flexible space. The deep coves also allow for hidden distribution of the air-conditioning system. The architects retained a series of tall, arched windows that overlook the piazza below.
The project team for the Jil Sander showroom included design partners Michael Gabellini and Kimberly Sheppard, managing partner Daniel Garbowit, and design team members Cathy Jones, Vincent Laino, Lisa Monteleone, Fran Pugliesi, Daniel Wismer, and Melvyn Wong.